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The Northwood Howler

The Student News Site of Northwood High School

The Northwood Howler

Real activism reaches far beyond just a post

Chanel Capa
RADICAL REPOSTING: Instagram posts often find themselves at the heart of performative activism.

Social media wields undeniable power. From the latest styles to the trendiest food, it tends to dictate our lives as teenagers. However, social media can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to raising awareness about current events as a method for activism. Exclusively reposting is not true activism because it can misrepresent and suppress the spread of real information.

After the terrorist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, it was hard to ignore the flood of news articles containing contradicting information, and even harder to ignore the string of reposts across Instagram from almost everyone: your friends, family and even celebrities. 

The Israel-Palestine conflict dates back over 100 years and includes a complex history that cannot be reduced to one Instagram post that seems to sum up the entire situation. The temptation to repost a random post that has likely not been fact checked is worsened by confirmation bias and the social media echo chamber: Social media algorithms are designed to show posts based on the ones you interact with, causing further polarization of perspectives because you are more likely to see things you already agree with. Thus, people then develop further skewed perspectives based on the information they are shown.

Furthermore, the lightning fast reposts of keyboard warriors do little to enact tangible change. Instead, there is a social pressure to amplify posts that discuss current events to seem politically correct, regardless of whether or not those posts retain any power. This is known as the Social-Desirability Bias Effect, where seeming “socially desirable” is often the motivation for agreeing with certain beliefs instead of forming your own opinions.  

A prime example of this phenomenon occurred during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, where posting a black square to #BlackLivesMatter quickly became popular as a way to demonstrate solidarity. While the gesture’s intentions may have been pure, it did nothing to address the issue of systematic police brutality against Black Americans. For the most part, it was a trend that people hopped on one Tuesday, then forgot by Wednesday. 

 This kind of performative activism is problematic because it is not simply bandwagoning onto an Internet trend. The blackout squares in 2020 overwhelmed the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, drowning the voices of those with valuable contributions to the movement. 

Social media can be an effective method for shining light on current events because of its widespread use, but it must be done responsibly, and it should not be the only action taken.

Before you repost something you see on social media, educate yourself using reputable sources from across the political spectrum to fight the echo chamber. Fact check what you are sharing and only repost what you can reasonably be assured is accurate. Don’t fool yourself into thinking posting on social media is enough; sign petitions, attend organized protests and most importantly, once you are able to, vote for people who will take action you agree with to solve these problems. We have the power to do so much more than just an Instagram repost.

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About the Contributors
Aishwarya Ramasubramanian is a junior and THO editor of The Northwood Howler. With an iced pumpkin spice chai latte in one hand and an Apple pencil in the other, she is likely the top user of Goodnotes at Northwood High School. 
Chanel Capa, Graphic Artist
Chanel Capa is one of the many talented graphic artists for Howler and has a surprising affinity for comedy. He likes to listen to many different types of music and you will most certainly find him running around school with a pair of headphones sitting around his neck. He also can't ever indulge in a single media normally (He HAS to be crazy about it for about 3 months minimum).

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